China factories: Is anyone on time?
Of course I don’t believe everyone has time issues with China factories (although it wouldn’t overly surprise me) – the above is a rhetorical question. But what do you think?
Today, after waiting for the entire weekend for a response, I finally found out that the product I am waiting on was delayed again. For confidentiality reasons, I am not going to tell you any specifics. However, above is a time-line showing all of the delays we (our customers and us) have faced, with each block representing a day.
The original time line is indicated in light green. All of the other colors are delays, with the most recent one being red (the one on the bottom right). What you can see is that there has already been almost two months in delays.
Nowhere to run
I hope the above is an isolated problem. However, I know that one problem can just be the prologue to many others. One thing I learned from dealing with little factories in China is to trust your gut. If you run into problems, run the other way. Try a new supplier. Get out of the business.
But if these guys mess up, there’s pretty much no one else to run to (believe me, we looked). It’s kind of do or die because we haven’t found anyone else capable of making this product to our customer’s requirements.
Always another reason in China – and not just the smaller factories
And I thought that such issues were more the province of smaller, less well run factories. But it looks like I was wrong.
Even this factory – one with thousands of workers, growing it’s sales at well over double digit annual rates, is running into a lot of time problems..
In China, you must be prepared to continually hear new excuses when working with new suppliers. Hopefully, you can find suppliers that have almost 0 excuses and exclusively use them. From my experience, however, it seems that instead of looking for perfection, you need to look for good enough, and then work from there. What does ‘work from there’ mean?
Developing relationships with your suppliers in China
It means gradually developing relationships with the people you are working with, trying to help out wherever you can, and not driving yourself crazy with all of the problems (and excuses) that come up, all while trying to hold this factory accountable to high standards of timeliness, service, and quality. Sound like a mouthful? That it is.
However, this is pretty general advice. If you work with factories in China, let us know how you smooth through the rough spots in the comments below.